A Dad's Journey

Father of Autistic Twins Speaks Out

Browsing Posts in older dads

exhausted-dad-at-computerHalloween has come and gone.  Tomorrow we’ll finally have an end to this election madness.  But a constant remains in my household; the nighttime antics of my 16 year old identical twin boys.

I have tried my level best to create a routine.  Setting up exact shower schedules, final meals, TV shut off times and off to bed regiments.  The problem is that being sent to bed doewsn’t mean going to sleep.

I have Michael who sounds like a happy banshee.  He whistles, hums, makes all the oddest sounds, bounces on his bed and basically keeps up a racket until midnight.  And yet, he is the least of my problems.

His twin, Sean doesn’t feel as compelled to stay in his room.  Like something out of “The Great Escape”, he waits and plans his escape. Sometimes it’s just to the bathroom, mostly it’s downstairs for a midnight snack, perhaps some bubble blowing (He has a MacGyver-like ability to mix solutions into producing bubbles and then Jerry-rig any household tool into his bubble wand).   Of course, he also unlocks the front door, lets the dog out to wander the neighborhood and essentially cause endless mischief until roughly 1am.

This leaves dad (keeper of the night shift) in a state of high alert until the wee hours.  I maintain an absurd hope that they will grow out of this, but it’s gotten worse as they’ve hit their teen years.

I welcome and and all suggestions.


Exhausted dad


My son Michael knows better but he keeps peeing on the floor of his bedroom.  I don’t know why he feels the need to relieve himself on his bedroom floor, maybe it’s out of laziness or maybe it’s because he’s literally pissed off at the world and this is his way of pissing back.   I have tried various tactics to stop/modify/change this behavior.  I’ve even tried a moisture alert alarm that I hoped would scare the crap out of him (hmm, poor choice of metaphors).  But nothing seems to work, other than constant monitoring.  If we keep sending him to the bathroom, he doesn’t have any ammo to inflect further harm.

Finally, out of complete desperation, I added the signage below.

michael sign


And did it work?

Well, he no longer pees here anymore.  He has moved to the front of the bed.  (Curses, foiled again!!!!)

I tend not to write personal stuff about my boys, hits too close to home.  But for this note, I will make an exception:

Subject: Free Write Friday

Hi there!

I had to share Sean’s “Free Write Friday” assignment from today. The highlighted parts were independent!

Happy Friday!

Sean’s Teacher (Name Withheld)

Once again my home state of New Jersey is #1 in Autism Incidence

Karen Weintraub, Special for USA TODAY http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/27/autism-rates-rise/6957815/ 

Autism rates climbed nearly 30% between 2008 and 2010 and have more than doubled since the turn of the century, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is now believed to affect  one of every 68 8-year-olds – up from one in 88 just two years earlier.

That means virtually every grade in every elementary school has at least one child with autism – a seemingly astonishing rise for a condition that was nearly unheard of a generation ago.

What’s still unknown is the driver of that increase. Many experts believe the rise is largely due to better awareness and diagnosis rather than a true increase in the number of children with the condition.

“We don’t know the extent those factors explain in terms of the increase, but we clearly know they do play a role,” said Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC. “Our system tells us what’s going on. It (only)  gives us clues as to the why.”

The aging of parents is also known to be a factor; the chances of autism increase with the age of parents at conception.

“But that’s not the whole story is it?” said Robert Ring, chief science officer for Autism Speaks, a research and advocacy group. Whether something in the environment could be causing the uptick remains “the million-dollar question,” Ring said.

Despite their concern, experts said they were not surprised by the increase, because other data had suggested the numbers would continue to climb. In New Jersey, for instance, autism rates were 50% higher than in the rest of the nation in 2000, and they remained that much higher in 2010 – suggesting the national rates will continue to rise to catch up, said Walter Zahorodny, a psychologist who directs the New Jersey Autism Study. “To me it seems like autism prevalence can only get higher,” he said.

The new study also showed that blacks continue to lag behind whites and Hispanics in diagnoses. Zahorodny, also an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said the gap has persisted for so long that he thinks it may be real – that blacks may be less vulnerable to autism for some unknown reason. Others are quicker to blame lack of medical access for the difference.

“We know that there are significant under-diagnosis problems in minority communities and among women and girls,” said Ari Ne’eman, a member of the National Council on Disability and president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, which represents adults on the spectrum. The new CDC numbers show five times more boys with autism than girls. The girls and blacks who have intellectual disabilities as well as autism are getting counted, but the smarter kids are not, he said. “Many of the cases that are easier to miss are being missed in those populations.”

To be diagnosed on autism spectrum, someone must have deficits in three areas: communications, social skills and typical behavior. Roughly one-third of the children in the CDC study also had intellectual deficits, with the remainder showing normal or above-average intelligence.

To come up with its new figures, the CDC reviewed medical and school records from 2010 at 11 different sites across the country. There is a huge range in autism prevalence across those sites, from one child in 175 found with autism in Alabama, to  one in 46 in New Jersey. Boyle said the difference may be explained, at least in part, by differences in community resources for identifying and serving children with autism. Other reporting sites were in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.

The CDC has used the same method to determine autism prevalence every two years since 2000, showing a 120% increase in autism rates between 2000 and 2010.

The average age a child is diagnosed with autism has fallen, but remains above age 4 – though diagnosis is possible by age 2. Research suggests that the earlier a child with autism receives therapy the better the chance of limiting their deficits.

The message to parents is that if they have concerns about their child’s early play, speech or movement, they should raise those concerns with parents, Boyle said.

Prevalence rates quickly become fodder for politics. Several members of Congress and advocacy groups took the opportunity Thursday  to promote continued funding for autism treatment and research. The $780 million Combatting Autism Act is currently up for renewal.

“This is a loud message to people in Washington that we need leadership here,” said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks. “A national strategy that addresses all the needs of the autism community across the lifespan is what is needed now more than ever.”

Others criticized the suggestion that the rising numbers reflect an “epidemic” of autism. Instead, Ne’eman argued: “Autism is something that we’re born with, that always existed.”

Man, how many times are we going to keep hearing this story.  We get it.  And I firmly believe it’s true.  There is so much crap in the environment, it’s a wonder that our sperm can even swim straight after years of being bombarded with environmental toxins.

I wonder how long men can have their sperm frozen.  If I knew in my 20’s what I know now, I would have gone to a sperm bank and put some of my guys on ice.  Then 10-20 years later they could thaw them out and those would be the warriors I use to impregnate the egg.  Not the guys who have gotten warped due to environmental hazards.

Maybe this will start to happen more often.